The resort town of Manali in Himachal Pradesh looks like something out of a picture book. Nestled on the banks of river Beas and on the slopes of the great Himalayas, picturesque Manali is studded with cedar and deodar forests. Its snowy peaks and refreshing air makes you feel younger every time you visit.
Manali is located at the mouth of the Kullu valley, with an ancient trade route that connects the alpine lands of Himachal to the arid desert landscape of Leh Ladakh. The name Manali comes from the sanskrit Manu-Alaya, which literally translates to the Abode of Manu – the Hindu lawgiver.
Soak in the fresh, salubrious mountain air on arrival and get ready for some unforgettable adventures on your holiday. A haven for families, friends, backpackers and adventurers alike, Manali promises a holiday like no other. Solang Valley is a breathtaking vision, just like high mountain pass Rohtang Pass (3987 metres) at a distance of 51 kms from the main town. A hotspot for adventure tourists, the pass is also a gateway to Lahaul Spiti, Pangi and Leh valley. There is no dearth of things to do in Manali, and if you are an outdoorsy person, you will have a gala time. Whether it is conquering the mountains or rafting the foamy rivers or perhaps getting a birds eye view of the landscape while paragliding, Manali has everything that you might ask for. The best time to visit this hill station varies according to the activities that you are most interested in, but as a general rule of thumb, tourist season begins around April and goes on till October. Manali witnesses snowfall during the winter months.
(Also read: Top 8 Honeymoon Destinations in Himachal Pradesh)
Best things to do in Manali:
Manali is on the banks of the mighty river Beas and so is naturally a legendary spot for river rafting enthusiasts. Usually the best place to go river rafting is in Jhiri, 14 kilometers from Manali. River rafting for beginners is completely safe and all the required safety gear like life jackets and helmets are provided. A usual ride takes you around five to eight kilometers through the medium rapids of the river. It is an exhilarating experience to ride the foamy rapids, and it will surely give you an adrenaline rush.
The tall peaks of Himalayas are perfect for one of the craziest adventure activities – paragliding. Paragliding involves jumping off a cliff and glide over the serene valleys of Manali using a lightweight and freeflying parachute. Beginners are not allowed to fly solo, but rather can experience paragliding along with an experienced pilot. But there are many certificate courses that you can enroll for in Manali that will allow you to clock in the hours and obtain your solo paragliding license.
Hadimba Devi Temple
One of the most interesting stories of Mahabharata is that of Hidimba. Hidimba was a rakshasa who resided in the dense forests around what today is Manali. According to legends, Hidimba and Bhima were married during the Pandavas exile, and had a son – the fierce warrior Ghatotkacha.
An ancient and beautiful temple commemorating Hidimba and her son stands among the tall deodar forests only a few minutes away from Manali. The temple premises is also home to various fun activities and sumptuous food carts. Do not miss the Manali Arts and Culture museum that is located very close to the temple.
Vashishth Hot Water Springs
Six kilometers from Manali on the banks of river Beas is the village of Vashishth, an ancient settlement that is most famous for the hot water springs that are located here. The springs are located within the temple complex, and you can take a dip in these incredibly healing waters and experience the natural phenomenon of hot water geysers. There are many shops around the temple complex that sell intricate handmade goods, woollen clothes and trinkets to the travellers.
Rohtang Pass holds a special importance for the the region around Manali. Firstly, it is the only way to access the lands of Leh, Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul from the southern side, and as a result has been an important historical route. It connects the predominantly Hindu Kullu valley with the predominantly Buddhist Spiti and Lahaul valleys in the north. As one of the highest motorable roads in the world, Rohtang Pass lies at an elevation of 3,978 meters. It is an amazing experience to visit the snow lined roads of Rohtang Pass, something that you have to do if you are visiting Manali. The pass is open only between the months of April and October, and the inflow of vehicles is strictly monitored. Therefore, make sure that you have the prerequisite permits if you are planning to visit Rohtang Pass.
Beas Kund Trek
If you are looking for an easy yet amazing (obviously), breathtaking trek around Manali, Beas Kund is the answer for you. This 32 kilometer trek takes three days to complete and takes you to the highest altitude of 3700 meters. It takes you to the untainted origin of the river Beas, through high mountain passes and a view of majestic peaks like Hanuman Tibba and Friendship Peak. This easy level trek is best for beginners because you can really enjoy the beautiful nature without having to put yourself through a gruelling regimen that most advanced treks require.
Hampta Pass Trek
A slightly more worthy challenge for those who are up for it is the Hampta Pass trek. It takes 5 days to complete and spans a length of 26 kilometers. It takes you to an altitude of 4297 meters. The route of the trek takes you through some amazing wilderness. It is also one of the few beginner treks that let you interact with a snowy terrain. The best time to do the Hampta Pass trek is between May and June or August to October.
Shopping at Manu Market
Once you are back from your tiring treks, it is time to relax with some retail therapy. Manu Market is the answer to all your shopping woes in Manali. Located conveniently in Mall Road in Manali, Manu Market is a tiny yet bustling market of local produce, handmade goods, wooden and leather items, woollen clothes, crockery, utensils, shawls among a host of other things. Also check out one of the many hole-in-the-wall joints in and around Manu Market that serve some of the best Tibetan, Chinese and Continental food.
This is just a taste of all the magical things you can do in and around Manali. To know more or for help with planning your perfect personalized Manali or Himachal itinerary, get in touch with TripFactory!
Also check out: Best Viewpoints in Manali